200 Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Review

Jan 20, 2019 | Hiking, Reviews

I had never even heard of the brand Icebreaker until I was given one of their base layers as a gift a couple of years back.

In this post, I’ll be reviewing the Icebreaker 200 Oasis. This is one of their most popular base layers and is ideal for those of us who enjoy mountaineering, snowboarding/skiing, and any outdoor activity that may involve cold weather!

 

Contents


Review Summary

Brand: Icebreaker

Founder: Jeremy Moon in 1994

Best For: Those who enjoy outdoor activities in cold weather.

Price: £55 + on Amazon.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t have to be washed often
  • Ethical company
  • Amazing thermal properties (properly keeps you warm)

Cons:

  • Expensive

A bit about Icebreaker


What I really like about Icebreaker are their ethics. According to them, the merino sheep they get their wool from are free to roam in open pastures and perfectly natural conditions.

They get all their wool from specific merino sheep farms in New Zealand. They have a focus on it being natural and sustainable. The founder was determined to find an alternative to ‘plastic against your skin’ and his solution was merino wool.

Since the first Icebreaker retail store was opened in 2005, it really has exploded in popularity and it’s not hard to see why.

In the short clip below, Icebreaker’s founder Jeremy Moon talks a bit about their philosophy!

What is a base layer?


A base layer is the first thing you put on before any lengthy outdoor pursuit in possible cold weather. It’s supposed to have a snug fit against the body while absorbing and quickly evaporating sweat produced by your body.

Ideally, your base layer is thin, lightweight and breathable. It should be comfortable and made of a fairly stretchy material.

This review focuses on merino wool but you can also get synthetic materials which act as a decent base layer. Remember though, merino is wool and synthetic is plastic!

Full 200 Icebreaker Oasis Review


I’ve had my Icebreaker for about 2 years now and it has become my go-to piece of clothing for anything outdoors related. I’ve used it while hiking Scotland’s mountains, exploring ice-cold Eastern European cities, and snowboarding in the Balkans.

close up of 200 Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve

Merino wool is a great balance of being lightweight but very warm and soft

As you may have guessed, the 200 Icebreaker Oasis weighs in at 200 grams. There are slightly lighter and heavier options but this was has felt perfect for me. According to Icebreaker, the 200 is classed as a lightweight option.

The 150-gram model is for slightly warmer conditions while the 260-gram model is for very cold weather. I’ve worn the Icebreaker 200 in -20 wind chill conditions and it’s done more than an adequate job of keeping me warm.

I’d say the thicker model may be fit for you if you’re the sort of person that gets very cold very quickly. If you’re just looking for a standard base layer for use year round then I would go for the lightest option at 150 grams.

Merino Wool

What I absolutely love about the Icebreaker series is the merino wool they’re made of. Long gone are the days of itchy and uncomfortable wool bodywarmers! This stuff is the real deal and I can honestly say I’ve never felt any discomfort from the material.

It does a great job at what it was made for – keeping you warm in ice-cold temperatures!

Merino wool has heaps of properties that make it among the best material for thermals on the market. One of the main ones being excellent wicking properties. This means that when you sweat, the moisture is quickly pulled away from the skin and evaporates.

sweat beads evaporation

If you’re looking for an extremely comfortable base layer then it really doesn’t get much better than this one.

There’s one exception where I find the wicking properties don’t always work – I’ll touch on that towards the end.

All in all, it’s a very breathable material and dries as quickly as you’d expect for a top-quality base layer.

Merino is a lot more rugged than you may expect. I had half thought that after a few washes it would be time to fork out £50 for another Icebreaker.

Not the case.

I always wash mine at 30 degrees (as recommended) and let it air dry. The material hasn’t shrunk or started to de-thread in a whole two years. What’s more, you’ll find it to be pretty much bone dry after an hour or two.

It’s quite a stretchy material and very soft to the touch. It gives a very snug fit as you’d expect from any base layer.

Odour resistance is another property merino wool has (which I admittedly didn’t know until some research!). I find this a great advantage if you’re a few days on the road with limited access to washing facilities. The Icebreaker will remain odour-free for a good few days (of moderate sweating). If you’re bucketing sweat each day with it then it’ll probably start to smell sooner!

Again, this makes the Icebreaker Oasis ideal for you if you’re going to be out in the hills for several days without much access to cleaning facilities. It’ll do a much better job at keeping you warm than synthetic materials and won’t smell!

Check it out and read more reviews here.

What sports and outdoor pursuits can the Icebreaker be used in?

Quite literally, any!

I use mine mostly for hillwalking and trekking but have also taken it snowboarding and travelling with me. I was in Poland last year when temperatures plummeted to -25 and the Icebreaker really was a true lifesaver!

So it’s really down to you. If you’re doing any outdoor activity where you’ll be experiencing particularly cold temperatures then I’d say this would definitely be a worthwhile addition to your gear.

man snowboarding with mountains in background

The Icebreaker Base Layer was an excellent addition to my snowboarding gear (that isn’t me by the way!)

Some negative points?

First, I’ll touch on when the wicking properties don’t always work (which I mentioned earlier).

I sometimes find that when I’m going at a fair pace up a big Scottish mountain that I’ll be sweating a lot. This happens regardless of the temperature because I like to push myself.

This causes the Icebreaker to get damp (which is normal because it’s working at wicking away the sweat from my body), but I’ll then reach the top and be blasted by an ice cold summit wind. I find in this situation that no base layer will be able to combat the ensuing ice-cold chill – not even merino.

The layer simply hasn’t had the time to dry and that dampness feels like I’ve just stepped into an ice-cold shower for a minute or so!

Bear in mind this isn’t really a flaw, just something to be aware of!

Icebreaker shot from above

You can also get short sleeve and zip versions of the same base layer

Another thing worth mentioning is that I’ve read many Icebreaker reviews which say that it starts to stink of sheep once it gets wet (and that this never goes away!). I can honestly say I’ve never noticed such a thing and mine has had more sweaty outings than I can count!

Probably the biggest negative about the 200 Icebreaker Oasis is the price. At over £50 you can certainly get cheaper base layers but I doubt any will be of the same quality.

If you’re a keen outdoors person and go out often in cold conditions then I would say this is absolutely a worthwhile investment.

If you’re looking for a base layer you’ll wear maybe only a couple of times a year then I’d go for something cheaper – Under Armour make decent base layers for over half the price (albeit not merino wool).

Another negative I’ve read is that merino wool can be prone to developing holes. Again, this isn’t something I’ve experienced over my 2 years of frequent use. If it happens at any time in the future then I’ll definitely update this review.

Conclusion


The 200 Icebreaker Oasis base layer is undoubtedly a fantastic addition to your gear, especially if you’re into winter sports or activities in cold weather.

Warm, comfortable, lightweight and odour resistant makes for a great combination in a base layer piece of clothing.

Not only is it an excellent piece of kit, but Icebreaker also makes sure they are as ethical and environmentally friendly as possible.

While the price may cause some to raise their eyebrows, it is definitely worth the investment if you feel it’s something you’ll be using regularly.

As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you have anything to add or any questions then please leave them in the box below! 🙂

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Doing winter sports can be a very fun activity, but sometimes the cold can actually be very frustrating, especially when you do not have the right wear. I have been looking into picking up some winter wear that can help with winter sports and i am happy that i cam across your website. I remember once i went hiking during the cold season and i was horrifying to me and that is all because i did not have the right gear. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for your comment!

      This is a great remedy for that cold you experience while doing winter sports. There is nothing worse than being freezing cold, the icebreaker does a great job at trapping your body heat but also evaporating any sweat. I’d definitely consider it if you’re keen on hiking in winter.

      Reply
  2. I really like the sound of the Icebreaker Oasis. It does sound as if it fulfils all that you need from a skin. I am considering buying one so that I will no longer be put off from going walking in really cold weather, would this skin be suitable for that? 

    I agree that it does seem expensive, and I wondered if you know if it is made in children’s sizes too. Our children are football mad and play in all temperatures, and they really would freeze without a skin or base layer.  Would you say that it would be suitable to use when playing football?

    Very many thanks for your information.

    Chrissie 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for your comment!

      The Oasis Icebreaker would definitely be suitable for that! It’s amazing when out in cold weather and I use mine all the time. The merino wool does an excellent job of keeping you warm.

      I think there are children’s sizes! I would say it’s definitely suitable for playing football, especially if playing in very cold temperatures. I’ve used it for running, snowboarding and hiking so it’s a very diverse piece of gear.

      Reply
  3. I found your post very informative. I enjoyed your touch of humour and really this ice breaker oasis is ideal for someone like myself who sweats a bucket. But £50 is a bit high for a base layer. I guess what you pay for is what you get. With more quality I guess we should expect a higher price.

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for your comment!

      The 200 oasis is an excellent base layer. While it is quite expensive, you’re right when you say you pay for what you get. I’d definitely view this as an investment. I’ve had mine for two years and I still wear it very frequently.

      Reply

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